Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

December 27th, 2015

roto rooter truck

“Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”

— Anon

The Roto-Rooter Christmas Grinch

Two days before Christmas, the sewer backed up in my house.

My brother suggested that I try Roto-Rooter (slogan: We’re #1 in the number 2 business!). They charged him $65 to clean out his clogged sewer pipe. My regular plumber charges $95.

I gave Roto-Rooter a call.

“Helloooo, this is Roto-Rooter, Susan speaking.”

“Hi Susan, my name is Terry, I have a backed up sewer and need it cleaned out. I understand that you charge $65.”

Several seconds passed with no response.

“Hello,” I said.

“Yes, well we don’t have a $65 service. That might be Rapid Rooter. I can send a plumber over to give you a free estimate.”

A red flag started waving in my mind.

I thought, I’ll let them do the free estimate. How much could a simple job like this cost?  

“Okay,” I said, “send him over for a free estimate.”

“How will you be paying for the service, by credit card, check or cash?”

Another red flag went up.

“Credit card,” I replied.

The plumber arrives in an official red, white and blue Roto-Rooter truck.

He said, “Hi I’m Frank,” as he smiled and shook my hand.

We exchanged pleasantries then he quickly inspected my sewer setup.

Grinch

Today is your lucky day!

“I can clean out your main sewer drain for only $225.”

“That sounds a little high. It’s only a 10 minute job.”

“The $225 is actually a Christmas present we are giving to our customers. We normally charge $300.”

“Really? I’d call that more of a Christmas present that Roto-Rooter is giving to itself, at the expense of its customers.”

“Would you rather have sewer water in your house?”

“No, I’d rather call someone else who will charge a fair price.”

“Okay. Have a good day,” He said, but he was probably thinking,

There are plenty of other easy marks willing to pay the Christmas ‘special’ price.

I called my regular plumber and paid the $95 to have the sewer pipe cleaned.

I wondered how many other innocent victims fell for this Grinch-like mumbo jumbo.

Your Car Will Crash and Burn!

This Roto-Rooter ploy reminded the cross-country trip my family took when I was 10 years old.

national-lampoons-car

The engine in our 1964 Chevy Station Wagon started making a funny noise near Wichita, Kansas. My father stopped at a garage to have it checked out.

After a twenty minute wait, a greasy mechanic, with the nametag “Bob,” came out. He said,

“You need to replace the thermostat and you need a balancing rod.”

My dad replied, “Just replace the thermostat, Bob.”

“I highly recommend a new balancing rod. I wouldn’t drive this car another mile without it.”

“No thanks.”

After the mechanic left, I said, “Dad, I’m worried, it sounds like we really need that balancing rod.”

“We’ll be okay.”

While waiting for our car, I heard the same mechanic tell another customer, “Your car needs a new balancing rod. I would be afraid drive that car without it.”

I was stunned. A mechanic would actually lie to someone about his car?

The Lesson

The next time I smell a rat like Frank or Bob, I will avoid that business the same way I avoid clichés – like the plague!

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

Upcoming Presentations:

May 12, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

December 20th, 2015

evil hot chocolate

 

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

— Abraham Lincoln

 

The Hot Chocolate Caper

Upon clocking in at school yesterday, Diane, the office manager said,

“Hi Terry, I made hot chocolate for all the teachers. Please help yourself to some.”

“Thanks. I’ll get some a little later.” My hands were full, but I had to bring my class to the library later and I planned to get my cup of hot chocolate then.

At 9:30, as my students worked on the library computers, I slipped out, grabbed a cup of hot chocolate in the office and took it back to the library with me.

I took a sip out of my cup.

Yuck! This tastes like hot brown dishwater!

“What do you think about this so-called hot chocolate?” I asked the librarian.

“It’s ghastly. I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot barge pole,” she replied.

coffee

Then, the librarian left to run some errands.

Since there was no sink in the library, I set the vile concoction inside of a trash can in front of librarian’s desk. There was a plastic bag lining the trash can.

A few minutes later, a couple of other teachers wandered into the library and started chatting.

One of the teachers looked in the trash can.

“Oh my God, someone put a full cup of hot chocolate in the trash can,” she gasped loudly.

My face flushed.

I opened my mouth to admit to my crime, but before I could say a word, the teacher reached into the trash can and removed the cup of hot chocolate.

“This is unacceptable. Who would do such a thing?” she asked with a frown.

It was too late to confess. From the tone of her voice, I realized that the teacher would not be happy until someone did jail time for this heinous crime.

I turned and walked to the other side of the library.

wicke witch

I’ll get you, my pretty!

I was ready for the teacher to look me in the eye and ask in a creaky witch-like voice, “What do you know about this?”

Fortunately, she didn’t ask that question and I soon took my students out of the library and back to safety of the classroom.

I felt guilty for not coming forward with the truth, but I was in a Kobayashi Maru (no win) scenario that would baffle even Captain James T. Kirk.

cap Kirk 2

……………………..Uncle!!!……………………………….

 

I now think that teacher is out to get me, waiting for me to slip up. As I pass down the hallways of school, even if I don’t see her, my back tingles as I feel her evil gaze upon me.

The Lesson

As every politicians knows, the cover up is always worse than the crime. Next time, I will just confess to my error and let the chips fall where they may.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

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December 13th, 2015

twilight zone

Energy and persistence conquer all things.

— Benjamin Franklin

 

Sending a Simple Money Gram?

My wife and I sent a money gram from Wells Fargo to a relative. Sounds easy as pie, right?

Unfortunately, the relative was not able to collect the money because their name had been typed incorrectly.

We went back to Wells Fargo the next day and asked the teller for help. The teller walked over to talk to the manager. She came back to her window and told us,

“I’m sorry, we can’t help you.”

You Are Traveling Through Another Dimension

“What do you mean you can’t help us? Are we in the Twilight Zone? You got us into this mess.”

She stared at me like she didn’t know what I was talking about.

“You know, the old TV show with Rod Serling.”

robot teller

She continued to stare without blinking.

“A spooky show where strange things happen . . . never mind.”

The teller said,

“I do apologize. After we send the money gram, we don’t have anything else to do with it. You will have to call this 800 number.”

She solemnly handed me a paper with an 800 number on it and began to tidy up here teller area, indicating the conversation was over.

We’ll get home and this phone number will only give us the runaround. They should just call the 800 number for us, while we’re here, I thought.

Unfortunately, I didn’t say it out loud.

Of course, we went home and called the 800 number and there was nothing on the menu related to money grams. What’s worse, it was impossible to speak to a human being.

Our Dander is Raised

The following day we marched back into Wells Fargo, ready to give someone a piece of our mind.

This time, a different crew was working there. The teller passed us on to a personal banker. She introduced herself.

“Hi, my name is Shirley Atkins. How may I assist you?”

“Well, we came yesterday to fix a spelling problem on our money gram. The clerk told us to call this 800 number, which we did, but we hit a brick wall.”

“Please have a seat. Let me give it a try.” Our indignation started to melt away.

She called the 800 number.

“How frustrating,” she said. “It’s impossible to talk to anyone. Let me try some other number.”

While she dialed phone numbers, Shirley also engaged us in light chit-chat.

“What type of jobs do you have?” she asked.

“We are teachers,” my wife responded. “How long have you worked here?’

“Only one week,” Shirley said.

Aha, I thought. Maybe that’s why she is so good. She hasn’t worked here long enough to become contaminated.

After about 10 minutes of pleasant conversation, interspersed with Shirley talking to people on the phone, she had resolved our problem.

The question ran through my mind,

How is it that Shirley was such a good employee, and the other employees were so bad? Were the others just part of an android experiment gone horribly wrong?

The truth may never be completely known, but I do kn0w that if we hadn’t been persistent we would never have resolved our problem.

An Earlier Pivotal Moment

I was reminded of a similar incident that took place when I was student at Colorado State University.

I was terrified of public speaking, but I was required to take a speech class. In spite of my enormous anxiety, I managed to make all of the speeches. Granted, I was as nervous as Don Knotts, but the content was good, and almost all of my speeches received a grade of “B.”

Don knotts

At the end of the quarter, I was shocked to find that I received a “C” on my report card for Speech.

This must be a mistake! I know I did better than that.

However, I was so introverted that the idea of confronting the teacher mortified me. For years afterwards, I had headaches when I thought about that incident.

Ironically, I could have applied the public speaking skills I had learned in class, but at that time I just couldn’t muster the courage to do it.

The Lesson

As time passed, that one incident has motivated me to stand up for my rights. The pain of that memory transformed into a source of strength.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

Upcoming Presentation

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories and Humor.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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December 6th, 2015

DONALD TRUMP

 

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” — Donald Trump

 

Responding to Obstacles and Misforturne

No matter what the obstacle, Donald Trump never gets off message – “I am the best candidate for president,” he says, with the insinuation that “anyone who questions me is an idiot.”

Minor details such as his apparent fabrications of the truth, insults hurled at opponents and journalists, contradictions of earlier positions he took, don’t bother him in the least. Because Mr. Trump radiates such self-assurance, we are inclined to believe him and overlook his seemingly half-baked statements.

We may choose to respond to setbacks like Donald Trump and bombastically claim we have been unfairly treated and misunderstood.

For most of us, however, misfortune gives us pause for thought. Contrary to Mr. Trump, we may respond to setbacks with a sigh and a smile. We could take the attitude that we may have lost a battle, but at least we come away with our self- respect intact and maybe we learned something along the way.

The Rental Car Epiphany

Last week I rented a car to take my wife and two boys to Los Angeles over the Thanksgiving break. As we drove out of my driveway, I discovered that the car had no cruise control. I decided to exchange to car for one with cruise control. While waiting at the counter I heard a commotion at another car company at the other end of the room.

A customer was yelling at the two desk attendants.

“I already told him!” I heard the man scream while flailing his arms at one of the attendants.

I couldn’t hear all that was said, but obviously the man was dissatisfied and he was in full-rant mode. It was like watching Mount St. Helens explode.

Volcano

I am not going to take this bulldozer approach, even if they never switch my car, I thought.

“This car I got didn’t have cruise control. If I could, I’d like to switch it for one that does. Sorry, I didn’t check that before I left,” I said to the attendant.

“I’ll look and see if we have one available with cruise,” he said.

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

“No problem. Have a good trip.”

Without bursting one blood vessel, I was able to get a car with cruise control and have a fun trip to LA.

In fairness to the guy who blew his top, he was probably already having a bad day, even before the rental car meltdown. We’ve all been there. We have days where if one more person tries to take advantage of us, it pushes us over the edge, like Billy Jack.

 

I try to avoid that explosive situation by keeping in mind my long-term goals.

In the back of my mind, my objective is to make friends with the counter attendant, and beyond that, to win them over to my way of thinking with friendliness and reason. I believe that life is inherently fair and if I calmly explain the problem, the attendant will see the light.

To see it from the attendant’s position, nine times out of ten, the staff person is only following the company policy.

As Abraham Lincoln said,

“A drop of honey that catches one’s heart, when once gained, you will find little trouble in convincing their judgement of the justice of your cause.”

Lincoln’s approach seems a bit more practical to me than Donald Trump’s.

 

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

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Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

 

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

November 29th, 2015

bagels

 

Perhaps love is like is like a resting place

A shelter from the storm

It exists to give you comfort

It is there to keep you warm 

–John Denver, “Perhaps Love”

 

The Great Bagel Snafu

Last Wednesday, the new assistant principal bought bagels and coffee for the entire staff. I moseyed over to the teacher’s lounge and grabbed a bagel.

On my way to class, a teacher said, “The new assistant principal seems like a good guy. He said he came out of retirement to work here.”

“Was he in the teacher’s lounge?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Holy mackerel! I didn’t realize that. I didn’t say ‘thanks’ to our our bagel benefactor. He’ll think I’m an ungrateful dolt.”

My guilty feeling hung like a dark cloud over my head.

A Second Chance

At 10:30 am my class went to the art room and there was the assistant principal repairing a computer.

This is my opportunity to redeem myself, I thought.

I walked over to the assistant principal and said,

“Thanks for the bagels and coffee this morning. I’m Terry Sprouse, long term sub in room 15.”

“You’re welcome. I’m Jim Francis, assistant principal and retired geometry teacher.”

“I guess it’s true, old geometry teachers don’t die, they just go off on a tangent,” I said.

He smiled.

geometry

I had received a second chance to correct my earlier oversight and this time I got it right.

My Dad

I was reminded about when my dad passed away in 1982. He had been hospitalized after a heart attack. Each night after work, I would go hang out with him. We would watch a movie on TV, or joke about the painting class we had been taking together.

One night a violent rain and thunder storm hit. The streets were flooded and I couldn’t make it to the hospital to see my dad. I was awakened by a knock at my door at 4:00 in the morning. There were two police officers there.

“Are you Terry Sprouse?” one policeman asked.

“Yes.”

“Your mother called because the phones lines down. She wants you to go to the hospital.”

“Thanks,” I said weakly, as I imagined the bad news that awaited me at the hospital.

I drove to the hospital. The rain had stopped.

“You’re father passed away early this morning,” my mom said. I felt disheartened because I wasn’t there with him at the end of his life.

That feeling stayed with me for many years.

scales

A Chance to Balance the Scales

Then last year, my mother passed away.

“She only has a few hours to live,” the doctor said when my son and I arrived at the hospital.

I felt heartache, but I also had a deep feeling of gratefulness because I could be there to share her final hours. It was like I had gotten a second chance to make up for not being with my dad when he passed away.

The Lesson

What I learned is that life often gives us a second chance to balance the scales. The next time I fail to do the right thing, I will watch for a second chance to come around.

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

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Upcoming Presentations

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “How Abe Lincoln Used Stories.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

 

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

November 20th, 2015

Batsignal2

Cut Off By a U-Turning Driver

One fine morning last week, with flashlight in hand, I took Blackie the wonder dog, for a walk. It was cold and dark. I was anxious to return home to let my ears defrost.

We walked past a parking lot and a white Honda  approached us going the opposite direction.

Suddenly the driver did a U-turn in right front of us and parked on the street. His car lights temporarily blinded me.

I thought:

Who does this guy think he is, the Dark Knight responding to an urgent bat signal?

He must think he owns the road.

I just knew this guy was an inconsiderate, self-absorbed Charlie Sheen clone.

charlie sheen

“Kind of cold isn’t it?” the driver said as he got out of the car with a big smile.

My frosty attitude towards him abruptly melted.

“Yeah, it looks like summer is finally over,” I replied.

I thought of Abraham Lincoln’s maxim, “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.”

Well, I got to know him and he had disarmed me with his friendliness. Suddenly I liked him.

Dog Attack with No Apology

In contrast, last year in about the same place, I was walking Blackie when out of the blue, two dogs burst out of a screen door in a nearby house. They headed straight for Blackie and I, like heat-seeking missiles. The dogs barked and ran circles around us like a wolf pack.

After a minute or two, a lady stuck her head out the door and shouted to her dogs, “Get in here!” The dogs went in and she closed the door without a word.

Would it break her jaw just to say “sorry”? One friendly word would have broken the ice jam and disarmed my hard feelings, but none was given.

laser beam eyes

Now, my laser beam eyes are set on “stand-by” when I walk by that house, ready to unleash fiery retribution at my whim.

The lesson

We are almost powerless to hate a person who is friendly towards us, but it’s hard to forget those who deliberately do us wrong.

The next time I am in a situation where I might offend someone, even inadvertently, I will “disarm their hostility with friendliness.”

———-

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

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Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

Act Out Characters to Make a Story SIZZLE (video)

November 15th, 2015

 

Snapshot 3 (11-14-2015 8-05 AM) (2)

 

My Seminar

At my seminar/workship, entitled “Inspire and Engage Your Audience with Stories,” last Friday (at the Present Like a Pro Conference), the participants learned to 1) act out the characters and 2) build depth and meaning into a story.

Acting Out the Story

To make your stories crackle with energy, give each character a different voice and a different personality.

Use different voices to mesmerize your audience with laughs and drama. Embrace the full passion and tone of the character. Become the character and your audience members won’t just passively listen to your story, rather, they will be captivated by it.

Here is an Abraham Lincoln story, about a Baptist minister at a revival service that I told to illustrate my point:

Practicing Voices

One great way to practice voices is to give funny voices to the characters in stories that you read. As parents, we do that with the bedtime stories we read out children. As a substitute teacher, I give silly voices to characters each time I read a story to a class. Even when reading silently, I practice giving voices to the characters.

Components of Stories with Depth and Impact 

Before we can connect with our audience we must first connect with ourselves. We discover ourselves by examining the experiences that happen to us and in our response to the lessons that life teaches us.

In my stories I attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life, like Abraham Lilncon did. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them.

To provide depth and impact, a story should 1) identify what your goal is; 2) describe what obstacles exist (what is stopping you?); 3) tie the story to a similar incident in the past; and 4) state the lessons learned.

Make em Laugh, Make em Cry, in 3 to 5 Minutes Say Goodbye

On Friday, each student had three to five minutes to present a story in which they acted out the characters and incorporated the four components of a good story. Their stories were infused with humor, passion, and eloquence. I was amazed at the depth of the stories.

Add a Sing-a-long Song

I often add a sing-along song at the end of my seminar. This is a way to celebrate the effort the students have made and drive home the lessons from the seminar.

Here is an example of a sing-a-long song I  entitled “Tell a Story.”


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Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

November 8th, 2015

 

Late for the Wedding

The Graduate

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

–Norman MacLean

I had carefully planned to leave the house at 8:50 am so that we could arrive at the wedding, of our two friends, well before the 10:00 am start time. However, while my wife and I were ready to go, my two lazy teenage sons were still glued to their beds.

“Get up, you have to shower now in order for us to leave on time,” said I to one son.

“It only takes me 10 minutes to take a shower,” he mumbled grumpily.

“You’re conveniently not counting the time for you to get dressed and eat breakfast,” I pointed out.

My other son, responded to me with passive-aggressive silence. He leisurely showered and dressed.

I Get Irritated

In response to the boys’ snail’s pace, I expressed my irritation by muttering snide remarks like:

“We’re going to be late.”

“We should have left 10 minutes ago, just to arrive on time.”

Or, my favorite, “I’ll wait in the car!”

I might as well as have been speaking Chinese. My comments didn’t speed them up one iota and it just made me feel agitated and hostile. My heart was racing.

I thought, what’s the point of this? I’m the only one suffering.

I Change My Approach

I’d would have preferred to arrive early to the wedding, but in truth, the fate of the free world was not hanging in the balance. It didn’t matter if we get there 10 minutes early or 10 minutes late. The wedding would still go on and we would still see it.

No amount or cajoling would speed up the boys anyway, so instead of fuming, I sat down at the computer and worked on a story I was in the process of writing. I poured my frustration and nervous energy into the story. I wrote like a man with 10,000 volts of pent up energy passing through me.

lightning-myths-8

By the time the boys were ready to leave, I had completed some great work on my story and I felt utterly relaxed.

Fishing – Blessing or Curse?

I experienced a similar incident in my childhood when my dad took my mom, my brother and I camping in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. He really enjoyed fishing and thought I should too.

My dad would say, “My worst day fishing is better than my best day at work.”

Yet to me, fishing was as boring as meatloaf, and I was offended that innocent fish were being killed – unless my dad was somehow only catching the guilty ones. Nevertheless, while my dad fished, I turned my attention to nonlethal ways to enjoy nature. I hiked along the river, observed bugs and climbed rocks.

Lesson:

Turn frustration into creative energy.

The next time I am in an exasperating situation, I will change gears and direct my energy into creative channels.

———-

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

Related Posts

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Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 13, 2015. “Once Upon A Time: Inspire and engage your audience with stories.” Present Like a Pro Conference. Desert Diamond Casino. Tucson, Arizona.

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

November 1st, 2015

 

three stooges auto mechanics

An Unexepected Twist at the Walmart Auto Shop

I went to get the oil changed in Wal-Mart on my 1989 JEEP.

After changing the oil, in a maneuver that reminded me of a Three Stooges short, the technicians “bumped” some wires and the car wouldn’t start.

“Look, I brought my car in here to get it fixed and now it’s in worse condition,” I said to the department manager.

“I’m not sure what happened. Some wires came loose durning the procedure,” he replied.

“That’s funny because there are not even any wires near the oil drain or where you pour it in.”

“”There’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll push your car outside.”

“Grrr.”

I called AAA for a tow truck to haul the JEEP back home.

My Image of a Tow Truck Driver – Revised

My mental image of tow truck driver is a guy with grease on his clothes, reeks of cigarettes smoke, and spews f-bombs. I expected to see Jonathan Winters from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World.

jonathon winters

Notwithstanding my stereotype, the AAA tow truck driver turned out to be a clean-cut guy named Steve.

I sat in the cab as he towed my car away.

“How’s it going?”  I asked.

“Not bad, except I got four jobs just before I got off work at 5:00. I guess I’ll be working late again. It doesn’t bother me though because when I work these extra hours, I feel like I’m building up a lot of good karma.

Yesterday they sent me to west Ajo Road instead of east Ajo Road, so I had to travel an extra 15 miles to get to the right place. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

He stretched out his words in a slow-burn, mock-angry way. He smiled as he spoke. He didn’t seem to take his predicament too seriously.

 

The Impersonal Observer

I was struck by how Steve accepted adversity without allowing it to penetrate his cheerful personality. He took the attitude that, yes, bad things were  happening to him, but he was like an impersonal observer watching the action from a distance. This let him to take a philosophical perspective and to transform his misery into humor, not unlike Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man on a full moon.

Giant Sea Turtles

SCAN0250

Punta Raton, Honduras 1987

Steve’s’ attitude reminded me of an experience I had as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. One time, I took a group of kids from my school to watch the giant sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs in the sand. It was the wee hours of the morning and we got lost on the way to the beach. Yet, I just acted like it was a fun educational side trip that I had planned all along.

And, guess what?

That’s what it turned out to be.

Lesson:

When things don’t go the way I expect, I’ll take it with a smile and I’ll remember that “a light heart lives long.”

———-

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

———

Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 13, 2015. “Once Upon A Time: Inspire and engage your audience with stories.” Present Like a Pro Conference. Desert Diamond Casino. Tucson, Arizona.

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts #LifeLesson 5

October 28th, 2015

WALKING DOG AT NIGHT

 

The Journey Begins

It was 5:30 am.

I put the dog collar on Blackie, my 9-year-old Black Lab, and we began our usual morning walk around the neighborhood, only this time things went a little differently.

I had Blackie’s chain in one hand and my flashlight in the other as we side-stepped the puddles on the sidewalk. The full moon cast an eerie glow.

MOON

A Bad Driver Appears

Blackie and I were near the church when a big pickup truck barreled around the corner and almost hit us. We jumped out of the way, but the car splashed water on us.

The driver yelled out the window, “Stay off the road, x#@x!”

I shined the flashlight in his face and responded, “Hey Speedy Gonzales, keep driving like that and you’ll never have to worry about cholesterol.”

The driver flipped us off as he sped away.

You lookin’ at me?

Blackie and I continued our solitary trek, but not with the same spring in our step.

A few blocks later I saw someone walking two dogs. One was a big brown dog. The other was a short white dog with a long tail. My heart pounded with excitement.

Saving Jack

The white dog was Jack, who I had rescued from certain death in August 2014 when he tried to run across a busy street in the rain. I ran out in the street, picked him up and took him to my house. Jack was a houseguest for two weeks until I located the owner. I hadn’t seen him since.

Spot – My Childhood Friend

Jack reminded me of Spot, the small white terrier that was my pet as a child. My parents didn’t like Spot in my room, but some nights I was terrified that someone was hiding in my closet and I would secretly let Spot sleep on my bed. I felt safe when Spot was with me.


KILLER in closet

Now, the stress from the Speedy Gonzales incident was swept away by the warm feeling of seeing Jack again. Like the morning moon, that feeling lit my path throughout the day!

Lesson:

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts.

Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 13, 2015. “Once Upon A Time: Inspire and engage your audience with stories.” Present Like a Pro Conference. Desert Diamond Casino. Tucson, Arizona.

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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